Will? What Will? What Happens When an Executor Fails to Send a Notice of Probate

The New Jersey Rules of Court require an Executor of an Estate to mail a “Notice of Probate” to all beneficiaries and next-of-kin of the deceased within sixty days of the probate of the Will, at their last known addresses. Within ten days of the mailing, the Executor must file proof of mailing with the Surrogate of the county in which the Will has been probated. If the Executor does not know the names or addresses of any of the beneficiaries, and cannot discover them with a “reasonable inquiry,” the Notice should be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county of probate.

The purpose of the Notice of Probate is exactly what it sounds like–-to place everyone who might have an interest in the Estate on notice that the decedent has passed away, that a Will has been probated, and the identity of the Executor. Those receiving the Notice may then request a copy of the probated Will, which the Executor must provide.

In the event the Executor fails to either send the Notice or file the proof of mailing, he or she may suffer consequences beyond mere guilty feelings at having broken the Rules--possible beneficiaries normally only have four months from the date of probate to challenge a Will, a time limit which may be extended if the Executor fails or refuses to send the proper Notice. 

In order to rest easy with the probate of a Will, the Notice should be sent and the proof of mailing filed in a timely fashion. Otherwise, a long lost uncle may pop up down the road and create a problem which could have easily been avoided.

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